4 Ideas For Teaching Prayer To Kids With Special Needs

When it comes to teaching children with special needs about prayer, I get excited, because it’s one way of helping them to develop and enjoy a fulfilling relationship with God.

I think kids need to understand the simplicity of prayer.  To be honest, I think that’s a lesson that even adults need to learn.  Prayer is asking God for what we need and believing He will do the best thing for us. It’s talking to Him about people we care about, asking Him to help them. Prayer is asking God how to handle a problem we have and doing what He puts in our heart to do.

Children need to know they can tell God anything at all because He loves them no matter what.  I believe this is so important for children to understand. They can talk to God any way — just be themselves with God. They can talk to Him anywhere — at church as well as home or even on the playground. And they can talk to God anytime — because He loves them and He is never ever too busy for them.

So much of the time, kids are taught the way to pray by their parents.  They may learn to kneel, to bow their heads, or fold their hands. They might learn certain words to say or to recite a special Bible verse.  There’s anything wrong with any of that.  In fact for some kids having a specific prayer routine and roteness is needed.  It’s part of who they are.  I think that when it comes to teaching children with special needs to pray we need to be willing to toss out the “rule book” and teach them to  pray in a way that is unique to them and taps into their strengths.

Here’s a few tips or ideas:

  1. If you have a child who is nonverbal or barely verbal, let him hear you pray as often as you can.  Pray during mealtime, bedtime, and even “odd” times such as when you encounter a beautiful sunset on an evening walk.  The more you model and establish the habit of prayer, they more likely your child will pick it up.
  2. Try to make prayer time easy, enjoyable, and for those kids with short attention spans: keep prayers short and to the point!
  3. When you pray with your children, use words that are part of their normal, everyday speech.  This will improve their ability to understand what you are saying.
  4. Try praying about things that relate to your child’s day-to-day experiences.  This helps children to see that God is interested and cares about what happens to them on a daily basis.  For example, if a child is learning to participate in chores such as taking out the trash, pray, “Dear God, help Sammy to learn how to serve our family by taking out the trash.”

The main thing we need to understand is (and don’t underestimate a child’s ability to grasp this), it’s not the length or the eloquence or the posture of our prayer that matters to God. It’s the sincerity of our heart. He doesn’t expect people—either temporarily abled or differently abled–to pray the same way.  He just wants to communicate and fellowship with us.

Michael Woods

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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